Sector regulator TRAI has asked telecom operators to extend the validity period of prepaid users to ensure that subscribers get uninterrupted services during the 21-day nationwide lockdown. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also sought details of the steps being taken to ensure availability of uninterrupted telecom services to such customers on a "priority basis".
"...you are required to take necessary steps as deemed fit including extending the validity period to ensure that all prepaid subscribers can enjoy uninterrupted services during the period of lockdown," TRAI said in a communication to all operators on Sunday.
The communication on "measures regarding ensuring the availability of recharge vouchers and payment options for prepaid services" comes in the backdrop of 21-day lockdown imposed in the country to deal with the outbreak and spread of coronavirus pandemic.
"Though the telecommunication services have been considered as essential services and thus granted an exception from closing down... However, lockdown may adversely affect the working of customer service centres/point of sale locations," TRAI said.
The regulator added: "Under the circumstances, it is quite possible that those subscribers who wish to top up their prepaid balances or wish to extend the subscription to a prepaid tariff using offline channels may face hardships and/or disruption of services".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24, announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days in an unprecedented move to try to halt the spread of the pandemic, shortly after which the Centre said road, rail and air services will remain suspended during this period.
The pandemic has claimed 29 lives in the country and number of COVID-19 cases has touched 1,071 in India.